Love Strikes Twice for Elizabeth City Retirees

015_A_SHP0065Meet the McNamaras

For Geoff and Jody McNamara, it was love at first sight. As young professionals working in Fairfax, Va., they met on a blind date in 1987. He worked for the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Service as a fire medic. She was finance manager at the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy. Maybe it was the smooth vibe of the Pat Metheny concert they saw that night, or their mutual appreciation for art and Victorian architecture; they knew what they wanted. Four months later, they married and spent the next two decades living, working and raising their family in a 1950 Cape Cod-style home in the suburbs.

However, while their careers and family life flourished, the McNamaras felt increasingly confined amid the sprawl and hectic pace of northern Virginia. They dreamed of a home near the water with a sunset view. The couple asked a few North Carolina real estate agents to keep an eye out for them. In 2001, they received a call about a site in Elizabeth City.

“We came down here, looked at the property and we bought it – a lot on Symonds Creek in The Waters at Sunset Pointe development,” said Geoff. “Our hopes were to build on that lot in the future. But as we came down off and on to look at the land, we got more and more interested in the city itself.”

The couple was taken with Elizabeth City’s arts scene, the architecture of the stately homes and buildings and its reputation as the “Harbor of Hospitality.” The McNamaras got their first taste of the city’s southern charm on their initial trip to check out the Symonds Creek property.

“An older fellow saw us looking at a map at a convenience store and asked us where we were going. When we told him, he said, ‘I know where that is. I’ll take you there’,” said Geoff. “He drove 10 miles to show us where the property was and then waved good-bye and said, ‘Have a nice day.’ That’s the kind of people we kept running into, very open and cordial.”

In 2010, the McNamaras decided to move up their relocation plans, thinking they’d rent while building their home. Instead, love struck twice. They fell for a cozy 1920s Craftsman’s house with a wrap-around porch in the Riverside neighborhood and moved in the following
year.

During their first year in Elizabeth City, Geoff and Jody joined the Chamber of Commerce, Arts of the Albemarle and Museum of the Albemarle, where they discovered a welcoming network of friends. Geoff was invited to serve on the board of Elizabeth City Downtown, Inc., and he began volunteering with the Port Discover Hands-on Science Center. Jody lent her time to The Love Project Portrait, a nonprofit that takes portraits of families with medical issues. Jody’s background in finance and the arts made her a perfect fit when Arts of the Albemarle began looking for a finance manager, and she joined their staff in 2016. They both enjoy volunteering with Elizabeth City’s Splash event, a week-long arts immersion experience for visiting artists.

When they’re not serving the community, the McNamaras enjoy kayaking on the Pasquotank River, biking along city’s old-fashioned downtown area and day-tripping to nearby coastal towns.

“We wanted to be near the beach, but not on it,” said Jody. “We’re just an hour away from the Outer Banks, so we miss all the traffic.”

At the end of the day, though, there’s no place they’d rather be than home.

“We sit on the porch, we look at the river, we have a glass of wine – and it’s delightful,” said Geoff.